The United Arab Emirates is one of the world's largest oil and gas exporters. But now, the Gulf country is preparing for a low-carbon economy.


Abu Dhabi's prototype electric bus is a template for future sustainable public transport solutions
in the desert's harsh environment. (Photo courtesy Masdar)





Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, is taking a step towards sustainable mobility with its new zero-emission bus designed for hot climates, the E-Bus.



Abdulla Ahmed Balalaa, Masdar director of real estate development and asset management, said the E-Bus is a sustainability initiative in the transport sector.



"We are considered pioneers of sustainability developers in the region and one of the most sustainable developers in the world," Balalaa told the "Kaleej Times" in an article published Sunday. "Masdar is a lab where all new and fascinating ideas are born and take shape. We have more than 20 research and development projects. This is the R&D hub of the Abu Dhabi Government and the UAE."



The E-Bus was jointly developed by Masdar and Abu Dhabi-based Hafilat Industries in collaboration with the Masdar Institute, part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology, according to the official news agency WAM



Assembled in the UAE, the E-Bus features a lightweight aluminium body by the Australian bus bodybuilder Volgren. The UAE purchased the electric engines for the E-Bus from German Tech giant Siemens.



The E-Bus uses temperature-resistant, water-cooled batteries located at the rear to enhance space efficiency. The batteries enable a range of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per charge.



Currently, the E-Bus is on a trial run that starts from the Abu Dhabi Bus Terminal and stops at the Al Wahda Mall, World Trade Centre, Corniche Street, the Founder's Memorial and the Marina Mall.



Officials from Masdar and the Department of Transport (DoT) told the "Khaleej Times" that the results from the trial run are "very promising" and the big announcement will happen soon.



Balalaa said, "We are doing technical testing. I can't give a time as this initiative is in collaboration with the DoT, but I can assure that the results from the testing were fascinating. That's the good news till now. We now need to formalize things with the DoT to run the vehicle on the roads for public use."



Ibrahim Sarhan Al Hamoudi, acting executive director, Surface Transport Sector at the DoT, said the pilot project is ongoing but the public will be able to take a ride "very soon".



"The safety requirements in the vehicle are among the best in the world. The technology is viable with some enhancements. With the pilot getting close to complete, we think such a technology can be made available very soon to the public. We are still testing and can't comment on a date or plan before understanding the limitations and potentials of this vehicle. But it will be very soon."



In Dubai, another of the seven United Arab Emirates, modern, connected vehicles are being tested. The Roads and Transport Authority launched the test of the world’s first Autonomous Pods during the World Government Summit in Dubai in January.



Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid attended initial tests of the autonomous pods. They were designed and engineered by NEXT Future Transportation Inc. based in San Jose, California.



Each pod measures almost three meters (10 feet) in length, and stands 2.8 meters (nine feet) high. They have the capacity to accommodate 10 riders - six seated and four standing. Each autonomous pod has an average speed of 20kph (12 miles per hour) Each is fitted with a battery that supports three hours of operation, and can be fully charged in six hours.



The pods are designed to travel short and medium distances in dedicated lanes. They can be coupled or detached within seconds, depending on the destinations of riders. The pods are fitted with cameras and electromechanical technologies to perform the coupling and detaching processes, which can be activated while the pods are in motion.



By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)

October 29, 2018